Despite the amount of deals on offer, and the convenience of booking holidays online, many US internet users still prefer to book their travel over the phone, with perceived security problems the main reason cited.

Forrester Research polled over 5,000 US consumers in the last quarter of 2006 to find out the reasons for their reluctance to use the web for holiday reservations.

The main reasons cited were:

  • Concern over credit-card security - 16% of those surveyed were too concerned about security issues to enter their credit card details. Also, 32% of those who researched holidays online then booked offline did so due to card fraud concerns. Both these figures have increased since last year's poll.
  • Website usability/performance issues - Frustration with online reservation systems was enough to put many travelers off online booking, with one in five citing this reason.
  • Limits on the actions they could take online - Some users get frustrated with the lack of flexibility on some online booking services, as they are unable to make specific requests, for a type of hotel room, or model of car. 25% of those surveyed were put off because of this.
  • Some prefer to be able to talk to someone when booking travel - A third of respondents said they simply preferred to talk to someone in person when booking their travel.
  • Consumers think they can negotiate a better price with an actual person - This is a strange perception, as holidays are generally much cheaper when booked online. Recent research from Holiday Which? showed that identical holidays could be booked online for almost £500 cheaper than the brochure price.

Many of the reasons why customer book offline are within the control of online travel firms - increased usability and flexibity in the booking process would go a long way towards solving this problem.

In addition, customers need to feel secure about paying online, so prominent display of third party verification logos, and links to further information and reassurance about security issues can help ease customer concerns.

Graham Charlton

Published 21 March, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (4)



I am a travel writer for an east coast magazine and I must say that, while I do have my, well, reservations, about booking travel online, it is still by far the most efficient means of securing a flight/hotel/rental car. Usually I'll go for a flight; for my hotel, and if I need a car I just go right to enterprise and book. Most of the time it takes less than 20 minutes to do all three. AND, if you're traveling for the holidays, it is always cheaper to book online as opposed to consultimg a travel agent. I love being able to do my own research and, sadly enough, I trust these stupid machines way more than any human. The machine won't screw you over if it had a bad day. Im pretty sure that, these days, most credit card systems on line are 99% fool-proof.

over 11 years ago


Peter Vogl

For the past few years my usual method of booking flights, hotels and cars has been online. Being based in Vancouver, British Columbia BC, I found a company called and they has an airfare to New Zealand that was better $230 cheaper (per person - 3 of us) than what I could get online.

I called the agency - Travel agents display their discounted fares on this site - and I booked paid and saved $700.

My question is why is Travelocity, Expedia etc. overcharging or is it that they can not get better prices than local travel agents?

Certainly I will keep give this agency - from - a chance next time.

Regards Peter Vogl

about 11 years ago



Travel Agents are making a BIG come back! True,online booking has it's advantages. With technology changing at an extreemly fast pace could consumers keep up? If you have the resources to book online and reseearch a destination you are one up on travel agents. If you book online and think you could figure out a country in a month or so? Expect to double your travel expenses. Full Service Travel Agents are similar to Concierge Agents at your favorite high-end hotel.

We have a term called TST(Touch,Smell,Taste). Internet booking engines are programs with a single mind with restrictions and meager selections, sometimes over charging consumers. Travel Agents have hundreds of vendors plus consoidators for international flights and constant contact for itinerary changes. Try changing flights on a business or international flight at an airport or on your away from your computer????? We are a phone call away! We give the clients what they need when they need it the most. Think of Travel Agents as a Safety net when traveling.

almost 11 years ago


Bui Duc Huyen

I found a travel bureau last year basing on online tour booking and consulting services thru it and see that people from US seldom book their trip online. They mainly book their trip via their agent in their own country and therefore get a more expensive price. The main problem with them is the credit card security. As we have not had the online payment yet (all the companies in Vietnam do not have) so we always require credit card information sent ot us for guarateeing their booking. After this step, they will be away and no response back as they are scare of stealing their credit card information.

over 10 years ago

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